Habitat for Humanity chapter may build house for hurricane victims

Habitat for Humanity chapter may build house for hurricane victims

by Matt Bower

Building a house is hard enough on its own, but try building one and then moving it to an entirely new location.

This is a project the Simpson chapter of Habitat for Humanity may be taking on this year.

“The central headquarters for Habitat for Humanity is trying to set up different states around the country to build houses and send them to other areas, such as the Gulf Coast,” senior Maia Nikolova said. “We want to do it, but it’s not clear on how we’ll do it. It would cost a lot of money and lots of logistics are involved.”

Nikolova is one of the leaders of Simpson’s Habitat’s chapter, along with junior Amanda Sheller.

“I like that you actually get to do something and are able to take an active role,” Sheller said. “I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”

Both Sheller and Nikolova got involved in Habitat during their freshman year at Simpson.

“It’s a good service opportunity to get involved in because it’s very informal,” Sheller said. “You don’t need to show up to every single meeting, but if you’ve got a free Saturday, then you can come and help out. Habitat for Humanity is a great organization because it is helping people help themselves.”

In addition to working on the project being set up by the central headquarters, the chapter is also sponsoring a house in Sri Lanka in conjunction with Central College as well as working on a house in Indianola.

“We’re also doing a spring break trip, but we don’t know where yet,” Sheller said. “We’re hoping to go to Denver.”

Simpson officially became a campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity International in 1990, according to Professor of Mathematics Murphy Waggoner, last year’s adviser for the Simpson Habitat chapter.

“The involvement arose out of what used to be called the Religious Life Council,” Waggoner said. “This student-driven organization wanted to do more than just go on a few Saturday Habitat work trips, so they became a chapter of the parent organization.”

Waggoner said she got started with the Simpson chapter of Habitat in 1993 by going on several weekend work trips to Des Moines.

“The parts of the Habitat program that mean the most to me are how many people Habitat has touched,” Waggoner said. “Since its inception, Habitat has built 200,000 houses worldwide and has housed a million people, but those numbers don’t even begin to describe the value of the program.”

Nikolova said every time she goes on a work trip, it’s a very cool thing.

“During one of the trips, I went to Des Moines where the chapter there has a store that sells bricks and paint and seeing that helped me realize it’s not all about just building houses,” Nikolova said.

But participation in Habitat for Humanity is more than just physical labor.

“I would like to see students involved with more than just hammering nails,” Waggoner said. “Students can do a lot in terms of fund raising, church relations, and community outreach.”

Waggoner may get her wish: Both Sheller and Nikolova said there have been many more people joining and expressing an interest in Habitat this year than in previous years.

Nikolova said she only became a leader for the chapter last year, but she has always recognized its important impact on families.

“Most families are low-income and living in horrible places,” Nikolova said. “Giving people the opportunity to have their own place makes a real difference in their lives.”